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Johanna : Transitions in Music

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With song in her heart and wings on her vocal chords, Johanna Beekman has lifted off into the turbulent world of music. Her second album, If I Could Fly, is quite a trip through one woman’s being.

“The entire album is kind of based around a letting go process and learning to take life’s experiences and fly with them,” Johanna, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter described. Her music is an eclectic mix of jazz, folk, rock, and at times even some reggae. She began making music at age 9, and her talent blossomed from there.

“My parents had a lot of friends who were musicians, and I really grew up with a lot of music surrounding me,” Johanna said. Her father, George Beekman, has helped her significantly in her career, and even played on her debut album, Stolen Grace, released in 2002.

Much has changed since those budding days as a musician. One theme that Johanna returns to often is transition. “I didn’t really know what I wanted, it was an experimental album,” she said of Stolen Grace.

For her second album, Johanna said she explored numerous varieties of musical style, which is evident in the expansive flavor of music on If I Could Fly. Each track feels like it belongs in its own CD. “Just the way that I wrote it was a process of letting go, and I felt so much lighter when I finished it,” she said.

She explained that what she was letting go of was a relationship and other life changes. “I think when you go through any major transition in your life you have a process of letting go, and everyone deals with it differently; I write music.”

Being a musician isn’t all glamorous. Johanna works hard at not only the music aspect, but the business aspect as well. “It’s interesting because there’s like the bottom level, or the independent artists that don’t make it at all, and there’s the top. And there’s not a lot of in-between,” Johanna explained. “You’re either a millionaire or you’re a starving artist.”

Johanna is proud to have grown up in Corvallis. She says it’s a wonderful small town for artists and musicians to nurture their art.”

Numerous female musicians inspire the music of Johanna. She studied under Cris Williamson and Tret Fure, both women who were key figures in paving the way for other women musicians. “That was really inspirational to me, that women and lesbian women could do such great things with their music and really get recognition for that,” she said. “There’s a lot of proof that we can do it.”

Johanna feels that her biggest challenge has been getting recognition. “There are so many singer/songwriters in general. It’s hard to kind of get above that sea of talent, and find something that’s unique about my music that would grab people.”

For now, Johanna finds the majority of her monetary gain in her job at Starbuck. She expresses her passion as a musician in her free time.

“I would love it to be a full-time job, music. I could work on it 80 hours a week and still not be doing everything that I could do for it,” she said. Her hopes for the next decade are to advance into making music her sole career venture. “Ultimately, I would like not to have to work so hard on the business aspect of music, so I can focus on the music itself instead.”

One of the issues surrounding making it as a musician is the fact sound has largely become digital. “The CD is a dying form. It’s really hard to make money from music these days because people don’t really buy CDs anymore.”

Nothing, however, can compare to a live performance. Johanna plays at a plethora of venues, ranging from small coffee shops to large concerts with other musical artists. Her upcoming shows include the Beanery in downtown Corvallis on June 29 from 8 to 10 p.m. For more information on Johanna and her future gigs, visit her Web page at www.johannasings.com.

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14 Comments - (Leave a comment! »)

  • Brianna – New York said:

    What I did like about this article (and all of the articles I read), was that it was honest. It put the subject’s problems in front of you and told you exactly what they did to overcome those problems, but without making the steps throughout the solution seem easy and glamorous. The articles on your site show that success and triumph are not easily gained, but with hard work, dedication, and motivation, it is possible to attain them.

  • Bianca – Colorado said:

    I was interested to see how down to earth and passionate she was as an musician. Her struggle is common amongst all musicians at some point in their career. I sympathized with her struggle to stand out amongst other artists and the dying breed of compact discs to have her music be heard. It is a cut throat industry. Sadly most musicians never reach the epitome of their dreams, while others sometimes risk it all to follow their dreams. Many just simply pack up and leave their hometown, move to L.A. or N.Y. to find fame. However, they must have the “it” factor, not just pipes, but a musical image to match it. It’s sad to see that some people “make it” based on their sex appeal rather than their voice. Their voice is given the last priority. These days, they don’t even need a great voice to reach stardom. It’s sad and disgusting that most struggling musicians like Johanna have the talent but don’t stand out from the poptarts. What remains is that esthetics come and go but the music is forever.

  • Julienne H said:

    This review stood out naturally. The interview dialogue was nicely incorporated into the rest of the article, which was enjoyable to read (especially because it made the artist feel down to earth and authentic).

  • Nathalie said:

    I’m a music lover who’s always looking for new artist and bands that could inspire me to write my own music. Although I’m not that much into musical genres like reggae, jazz, blues or country, I did enjoy reading this article about Johanna’s story and her music journey. I certainly relate into some of the facts she recalls about being an independent musician. You have to take care not only about the musical aspect, but the business part as well. I would have loved to see the embedded videos on the article itself and also some further information about her composition process, where did she record the album, where can I find her on social networking sites, etc. Anyway, I enjoyed reading her story, because she isn’t a fake artist, she worked and is still working hard on what matters most; making honest music by herself and not by some producer who only wants to make money at the expense of her natural talent.

    Your website was unknown for me until now, but I appreciate your efforts sharing the stories of so many unheard people that totally deserve to be taken into media attention, congratulations on such a great work.

  • Zsofi – Hungary said:

    I really liked the topic: a young girl’s inspiration and unique talent with the fact that she has to fight to her way through to become known / appreciated by a bigger public. It was also nice to see that her music was described quite exactly and as I said, made me interested in listening to her album.

  • Cierra said:

    I am extremely interested in music at this point in my life. That being said I thought it would be interesting learning about someone that I had not heard of. I loved everything about the article. It was very detailed and I especially like how the writer got the full description of Johanna’s job as a singer/songwriter. I also enjoy how the writer got Johanna’s personal opinion on the matter of how the music industry is growing. I am also glad that the writer got the name of her website and when she will be doing shows. I personally think that finding that information was an amazing idea just in case people, like myself, are interested in seeing one of this Johanna’s shows. I also felt like I learned quite a few things from this article especially that the music business is a lot of hard work. However there were a few reasons why I did not like the article. I did not understand the purpose of bolding some part of the text. I was confused as to whether there was a purpose to that or if it was just in there to be there. I also would have liked to know a bit more of her background. For example, if she always wanted to be a musician or if she wanted to be say a chef or something like that. I would have also like to have known whether Johanna is going to keep the style of music she is currently practicing or whether she is going to move on with the rest of the world.

  • Megan said:

    I was attracted to this article because it involves music, one of my main focuses and passions in life. However, the bolding of particular text was confusing; I understand it’s to highlight important passages, but I think you should let the reader interpret the highlights of the story.

    As far as the content goes, it’s something that is near and dear to my heart, so I definitely could understand a lot of the somewhat lofty writing style and I’m glad to see artists getting exposure when we live in an already music-biography saturated culture.

  • Niki – Florida said:

    This article caught my eye. I very much enjoyed the way the artist and writer bring an emotional experience to telling the story, which is a feat not often accomplished anywhere except in music. It’s almost refreshing that Johanna works at Starbucks. Here is an ordinary person with a larger than life dream. A real inspiration to many of us ordinary people and our own dreams.

  • Salvee – Philippines said:

    I would have liked to see more details about her personality, that twinkle in her eye when she talks about her passion, the enthusiasm in her voice, the look she had when she wished she could work full-time on her music.

    That being said, this article did not fail to inspire and inform, especially aspiring artists like myself. (I am a soprano and I want to work in the classical crossover genre, which is even more eclectic than Johanna’s music.) The reality check was good, both for struggling artists and the buying public—you either prosper or starve, as Johanna puts it, and people don’t want to spend for music when they can easily download it free online. Ultimately, this article is nice and pat, but lacks that standout ‘wow’ factor.

  • Robin – Indiana said:

    I greatly enjoyed exploring the pages of “Winners Within Us.” Many of the articles, including “Lori’s Story” and “Johanna: Transitions in Music” were very uplifting, but I think the part I most enjoyed is how the articles emphasized the hard work that goes into being successful and beating the odds. I love that Johanna’s story isn’t about someone who was born into fame or power, but about someone who worked hard and is continuing to work hard to achieve her goals. To me, that’s a real winner – someone who doesn’t just make goals and expect things to happen, but someone who makes them happen. I also love that the writer included Johanna saying that it’s not all smooth sailing and talking about how she’s getting by in the meantime.

  • Kenisha -- Michigan said:

    This was educational without being boring, and inspired me to find out more about this artist. The artist influences was surprising as was the depth of understanding life being a transitory journey. I like how the writer brought out the hard truth about the music industry; you have to work. It’s not only about the spotlight. I’m really grateful such a website dedicated to the positive upliftment to communities and people within exists. With so much negativity swirling around us, it’s nice to have options to read of inspirational real life experiences.

  • Jennifer -- Nevada said:

    I always enjoy reading about up and coming artists, and Johanna’s story did not disappoint. Although the flow of the article was a little broken up, as every paragraph besides the first was centered around a quote, it gave great background information and a comprehensive look at her inspirations. I wish Johanna the best of luck!

  • Ayla said:

    I enjoyed Johanna: Transitions in Music for the simple reason of her style of music, but also because of her beliefs (and being a local artist) and I am satisfied by how it was covered.

  • Jeff Forte said:

    Enjoyed hearing how “regular people” like Johanna are working toward their dreams. Very inspirational. In the end we are all “regular people” — some just found out how to do what they love. Meanwhile we can do the best we can to love what we are doing now, even if it’s not our “dream,” just yet.

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